Pharmac to fund skin cancer cream

The Government's drug buying agency, Pharmac, will fund a new treatment for skin cancers from September 1.

Pharmac said it would fund a cream, imiquimod (aldara), which people could apply themselves to treat generally non malignant basal-cell carcinoma.

While surgery remained the most effective treatment for skin cancers, the cream was useful in treating people for whom surgery might be inappropriate.

The cream had also been funded for the treatment of genital warts.

Pharmac estimated about 1800 people with basal cell carcinomas will be treated with the cream in the 2008/09 financial year, rising to about 4500 by 2013.

Together with its other uses, Pharmac estimated nearly 12,000 people would be treated annually by 2013.

Pharmac's acting medical director Dilky Rasiah said the cream was a cost-effective treatment compared to other products that could be funded.

It might also free up capacity for District Health Boards by reducing demand for other, more expensive hospital services and specialist surgery, Dr Rasiah said.

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